09/05/2019, 20.42
MOZAMBIQUE – VATICAN
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Pope in Mozambique tells priests, not to turn into stone lamenting the past

In meeting pastoral workers, Francis recommends to renew the "call" of Jesus. “In a crisis of priestly identity,” he said, “we need to step away from important and solemn places, and return to the places from which we were called, where it was clear that the initiative and the power was from God.”

Maputo (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis dedicated the afternoon of his first full day in Mozambique to the country’s bishops, priests, men and women religious, as well as committed lay people. In his address, the pontiff said to tackle the crisis of priestly identity we must renew the "call" of Jesus, putting aside certainties and rituals to choose to say yes and “let our weariness come from things that bear fruit in God’s eyes, things that make present and incarnate his son Jesus.”

His day began at Maputo’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and continued with a visit to the Casa Mateo 25, a centre devoted to young people and street kids. This was preceded by a meeting at the nunciature with people from Xai-Xai, a port city on the Indian Ocean in southern Mozambique located near the mouth of the Limpopo River that experienced severe flooding in February 2000. The Pope ended his day in a private meeting with the members of the Society of Jesus in Mozambique.

In a country where half the population follows traditional religions, Francis told the bishops, priests and pastoral workers in the cathedral that “whether we like it or not, we are called to face reality as it is. Times change and we need to realize that often we do not know how to find our place in new scenarios.” They must, he addedn, not forget “that the promised land is before us, not behind us, and in our lament for times past, we are turning to stone.”

“In a crisis of priestly identity, sometimes we need to step away from important and solemn places, and return to the places from which we were called, where it was clear that the initiative and the power was from God.  At times, without wanting it, and with no moral fault, we get used to identifying our daily activity as priests with certain rituals, with meetings and conversations, where our presence in those meetings, at the table or in the hall is ‘hierarchical’.” 

“Renewing our vocation often entails discerning if our weariness and worries are the result of a certain ‘spiritual worldliness’ imposed by ‘the allure of a thousand distracting commercial advertisements in order to walk ahead, freely, along paths that lead us to love of our brothers and sisters, to the Lord’s flock, to the sheep who wait for the voice of their shepherds’.”

It is a matter of showing young people the way of Jesus’ sequela so that, “radiant with the joy of a daily commitment, not imposed but fostered and chosen in silence and prayer, [they] desire to say their own ‘yes’,” able to resist to the “many attractively packaged offers” that come their way, but which will leave them “feeling empty, weary and alone.”

“You, at least the older ones among you, witnessed how division and conflict ended in war.  You must always be ready to ‘visit’, to shorten distances.  The Church in Mozambique is invited to be the Church of the Visitation; it cannot be part of the problem of rivalry, disrespect and division that pits some against others, but instead a door to solutions, a space where respect, interchange and dialogue are possible.”

“The question raised about how to react to interreligious marriages challenges this persistent tendency of ours for fragmentation, for separating rather than uniting.  The same is true of relations between nationalities and races, between North and South, between communities, priests and bishops.  It represents a challenge because developing ‘a peaceful and multifaceted culture of encounter’ requires ‘an ongoing process in which every new generation must take part: a slow and arduous effort calling for a desire for integration and willingness to achieve this’.

“This is the necessary condition for ‘progress in building a people in peace, justice and fraternity’, for ‘the development of life in society and the building of a people where differences are harmonized within a shared pursuit’ (Evangelii Gaudium, 220, 221).  Just as Mary journeyed to the house of Elizabeth, we too, as a Church, have to find the road to take in the face of new problems, taking care not to remain paralyzed by the mindset of opposition, division and condemnation.  Set out on that path, and seek answers to these challenges by imploring the unfailing help of the Holy Spirit.   For he is the Teacher who can show us new paths to follow.”

The Casa Mateo 25, which Francis visited after the meeting in the cathedral, is an initiative of the Apostolic Nunciature and more than 20 local religious congregations. It helps young people and street kids who have no food and often no place to sleep.

On average, 70 to 120 people are served every day: children, young people and adults (men and women) affected by different kinds of poverty: boys living in the streets, the homeless, squeegee people, drug addicts, people with alcohol dependency, the sick, ex-convicts.

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